Wednesday 27 February 2013

London Fashion Week: Huishan Zhang does East meets West at its best

It might be surprising to some that the majority of the London-based Asian designers who showed at LFW did not force their cultural or ethnic backgrounds into their designs.

And while it was a refreshing change to see designers from the East feeling confident enough to simply design beautiful and wearable clothes sans any ethnic twist or gimmick, there is something to be said for keeping your influences subtly on display.

Step forward Huishan Zhang, the Chinese-born designer held a mainstream LFW show and demonstrated that it is possible to nod to tradition without being a total cliché.

I mean, a man who considers the picture of Chinese elegance that is Maggie Cheung his ultimate style icon isn’t going to veer off into making asymmetrical monochrome prints with conical bras and Grecian draping is he?

Don’t get me wrong, Huishan’s collection cannot be described as ethnic in any way, but he has moved on from his previous collections. Taking hints of Asian culture – namely Cheongsams - to create modern garments that have enough of a twist to start a conversation at a dinner party, but not look like a fancy dress outfit.

The Western influenced cheongsams are offset by the second Asian feature – hand made lace. His sporadic use of traditional lace patterns compliment the more modern and casual edge created by bold geometric patterns inspired by Western contemporary art– itself a unique take on the famous Mondrian’s compositions.

What stands out about Huishan, who also happens to have worked previously at Dior and their couture atelier - are the delicate textures and attention to details and fabrics which are unmistakably feminine.

I found his collection very chic, meant for women who want to look effortless yet elegant and practical - the lace overlay shift dresses with panels in blue and yellow have to be my personal favourites.

What is refreshing is that this collection is not looking to shock or offend. It’s just a collection of beautiful garments – with something just unmistakably Asian about them - that you could wear anywhere and feel great in.

Have a look at his AW13 collection and tell me you wouldn't want to rock them on your next dinner party! I know I would.